Saturday, December 08, 2012

Du Nombor - Buddhadeb Guha

Leela Sarkar is one of the prominent translators from Bengali to Malayalam,. My introduction to Bengali Literature was through the novels and stories translated by her into malayalam and published by leading literary magazines. From Tagore, to Mahashwethadevi came into my reading list through her translations. It is the name Leela Sarkar as translator, acted as a catalyst in picking up this book for reading. To add to that, the book was published in the "Great Indian Literature" series by SC Books. I am not familiar with Buddhadeb Guha, hence there was no build up of expectation apart from the deceiving "Great Indian Literature" series and Leela Sarkar.

The book, to say the least, was a big let down. It was very mediocre and pedestrian. The style and substance was not I would have spent my time and money for. This may not be the best of his works, and he not necessarily be compared with the might of Bengla Literature. That is the point. It was not worth the effort. Taking through few days of a Calcutta High Court Advocate Sivan Babu, the writer brings our attention to the world of second rate influence in our daily life. From un-accounted money ( black money for common people), the counterfeit goods and articles, the behind the curtain lives of city elite, the un-social behaviour of ladies, the duplicate market of spare parts and goods and the pressure and attraction of the common man to follow the same life is what Buddhadeb Guha is trying to portray. So far , so good. But to make a story a great literature, these ingredients are not enough. There are no elegant passages, no moments of awe , there is no characters or instances that one would recall. A cliched , ordinary narration of the bad influences of the society and a few individuals , despite the personal losses, stood by their belief. It might make a good movie for Indian audience, but even for that the novel is incomplete and with lot of gaps in narration.

I wouldn't know if we have lost anything in translation, but to me , even a good translation may not save this book from its mediocrity. As I mentioned earlier, there is no single point, that one would cherish, even if for a short while. Luckily, the book is a novella and lasted only 92 pages. Subject as this, is often seen in various forms, has to be treated and explored differently, to make an impact. If not, the result will be this.
Du Nombor

Buddhadeb Guha ( translated from Bengali by Leela Sarkar)

D C Books

92 Pages

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